Laughter is one of our most basic emotional responses, but we aren’t taught to laugh or even to smile; they occur naturally.
Laughter is clinically proven to have a powerful and positive effect on one’s health and wellbeing. Research states that laughter can be used as an effective strategy when it comes to self-managed health. With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. However, it is believed that laughter as a therapy is often underutilized.
Laughter offers an array of benefits at different levels in numerous domains.
1. Social Benefits: Laughter, being contagious in nature, draws you closer to others. Most of the times, people return smiles and share a laugh. Laughter works in the form of a mirror neuron that makes people prone to mimicry and reciprocating. It thus attracts you to others, reduces loneliness, enhances team work, helps defuse conflict and promotes group bonding. Incorporating more humor and play into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your relationships. It also helps you to enhance your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends. This is precisely why jolly people are considered to be friendly and are often, more liked by others. Research states that men love women who laugh in their presence and women actually laugh 125% more than men.
2. Physical health benefits: Laughter is often considered to be an internal workout. According to Dr. Gulshan Sethi, “Laughter activates the body’s natural relaxation response. It’s like internal jogging, providing a good massage to all internal organs while also toning abdominal muscles.”
More often than known, it boosts your immunity by increasing the infection-fighting antibodies, thus increasing your resistance to various diseases. Additionally, it lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles and burns calories. “Laughter is the best medicine” is a very old saying but research has validated the same time and again. Studies have shown that it increases oxygen levels, decreases blood pressure and increases blood circulation throughout the body, stimulating the heart, lungs and muscles. Studies state that a good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward.
3. Mental health benefits: Humor lightens your burdens, adds joy and zest to your life, inspires hopes and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving. The sound of laughter draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. It also easies anxiety and tension, relieves stress by triggering the release of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) and improves your mood. Spontaneous humour sometimes helps you overcome anger, resentment and criticisms as it helps you shift your perspective and look at things from another point of view. It acts as a shock absorber wherein research states that happy faces are known to cope with failures and negative situations more effectively in comparison to others.
Laughter as a form of therapy can be used as a relaxation technique wherein, one actively makes an effort to relieve their physical stress and reduce fear or aggression. Laughter Yoga can thereby be used to relax our body muscles and even increase memory, creativity (wit) and energy levels, in general.
Laughter not only promotes an overall sense of well-being but it is also a quick healer. Undeniably, it is the healthiest response to life.
-Dr. Rekha Rani, Chief Of Psychology, AccioHealth
This post was previously published on: http://www.acciohealth.com/learn/life-is-better-when-you-are-laughing/